Quilting guild strives to serve local community

BUCKHANNON — Founded in July 1983, the Buckhannon Quilters at Heart quilt guild has constructed several projects to serve the community — the most recent being the annual raffle quilt.

For the past few years, the guild, which is made up of about 30 quilters, crafts together a quilt to raffle off with the intent to donate ticket sales to a local organization or charity that will benefit Buckhannon.

For 2017, the group’s raffle quilt project raised $854 from ticket sales, with funds being divided between the Pregnancy Center Central West Virginia Center for Pregnancy Care and to the Upshur County Senior Center.

On Dec. 14, the quilt board members picked the winning ticket, selecting Patti Anderson as a new quilt owner.

Christine Helmick, secretary of the guild, explained that the raffle quilt is quite a process, from choosing the design to assembling the squares.

“We vote on a design, and then we get together and cut out fabric, and we have workshops at the (Episcopal Church), and we usually meet on a Saturday morning or when the church is available,” said Helmick, who has been quilting for about 20 years. “We bring our machines and cutting boards and scissors and all that stuff, and we work on the squares, and then we put it together.”

Afterward, the unfinished quilt is taken to a long-arm quilting machine — essentially computerized quilting — where members can choose from dozens of stitching designs for the quilt.

“We take it to the long-arm quilter because nobody in our guild hand stitches anymore, and then we pick out a design from the long-arm machine,” she said.

Once the design is finished, a binding is assembled onto the quilt.

Finally, tickets are sold, a winner is chosen and members choose which local charity should receive the monetary donation from the ticket sales.

Being part of the guild for 12 years now, Helmick said she has found many benefits of participating in the group.

“Friendship; learning new methods of sewing; and working for the community with charity projects” are reasons Helmick said she enjoys the guild.

With the raffle quilt project, quilt exhibitions and monthly meetings, the guild contributes to the community and offers an opportunity to learn about the craft.

At 6 p.m. on the second Thursday of every month, the Quilters at Heart guild members meet at the Episcopal Church. New members of any sewing level are welcome to attend.